After vowing a single-minded focus on jobs, President Barack Obama's Republican foes in the House of Representatives called a vote late Tuesday to reaffirm "In God We Trust" as the national motto.
Lawmakers voted 396-9 in favor of a symbolic resolution, crafted by Republican Representative Randy Forbes and sure to appeal to the party's religious conservative base with the November 2012 elections on the horizon.
Democratic mocked the decision to take up the measure as a waste of time and tied it to Republican leaders' refusal to move forward with a Senate-passed bill aimed at punishing China for its alleged currency manipulation.
"The last time we checked, 'In God We Trust' is the national motto of the United States, adopted in 1956, and China was still getting off scot-free," said a spokesman for House Democratic Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Nadeam Elshami.
The resolution "reaffirms 'In God We Trust' as the official motto of the United States and supports and encourages the public display of the national motto in all public buildings, public schools, and other government institutions."
US lawmakers voted to add "under God" in the US Pledge of Allegiance recited daily by millions of schoolchildren and formally make "In God We Trust" the national motto in the mid-1950s, amid Cold War tensions with the formally atheist Soviet Union.
After seizing control of the House in November 2010 elections, Republicans adopted new rules forbidding most symbolic resolutions on grounds that such measures are a waste of time.
Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor cited the new rules in May as the reason the chamber would not pass a stand-alone measure marking the US raid that killed Al-Qaeda mastermind Osama bin Laden.
Forbes defended taking action on the measure but pointing to "rogue court challenges" to religion in the public sphere and citing Obama's November 2010 speech in Jakarta where he inaccurately said "E Pluribus Unum" -- "out of many, one" -- as the national motto.